Durham city and county government leaders announced on Friday that they’ve amended an April 3 stay-at-home order to require residents to wear face masks in public, along with new rules for farmers markets and realtors.

The amended order, issued by Mayor Steve Schewel and Board of Commissioners chairwoman Wendy Jacobs to further reduce the spread of COVID-19, says most residents “are doing well at social distancing and with staying home.” Even so, the order mandates that residents “wear a clean face covering any time they are or will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public and private stores where it is not possible to maintain social distance such as grocery stores, pharmacies, business locations, and public transit.”

Schewel said while no one unmasked in a public place will be asked to leave, “it’s very important that everyone wears a mask, or some sort of facial covering, when out in the public, but especially in places when social distancing is difficult. While it doesn’t take the place of social distancing, wearing facial covering certainly plays a big part in reducing the spread of the virus.”

The requirement goes into effect on Monday at midnight.

The amended order also addresses the sale of produce and plants at farmers markets. The new rules include the use of handwashing stations, operation, closing, and enforcement.

The updated order also includes new guidelines for realtors. Open houses and in-person showings are prohibited. The updated order prohibits in-person showings of occupied homes. In-person showings of vacant homes are permitted under certain conditions:

The buyer’s agent can enter a home with the prospective buyer; however, the seller and buyer can talk during the showing by using their cell phones and video.

Although the new order forbids more than one person at a time during a showing, two people can enter the home at the same time if they have been socially distancing together.

There can be only one showing of the home on any given day.

Anyone entering a vacant home for a showing must wear a mask, gloves, and not touch surfaces “to the greatest extent possible.”

In addition to the lights turned on and the entry door of the home open, realty agents must have on hand sanitizer or sanitized wipes for buyers before and after entering the home.

Finally, anyone entering a home “must assert to the best of their knowledge [that] they are not currently ill with a cold or flu; do not have a fever or persistent cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms, nor have they been in contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus; and will adhere to and follow the precautions at all times.”

“We recognize the importance of keeping our economy functioning and access to necessities such as food and housing,” Jacobs said. “Balancing public health and safety with these basic needs is why we have included revisions to farmers markets and real estate in response so essential activities can safely continue. Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives.”

Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at tmcdonald@indyweek.com. 

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